Meet the Board of Directors

Ian MiddletonIan Middleton – Chair of Board

Ian was delighted to become Chairman of The Social Enterprise Mark in December 2013.

He is very much a business improvement guru who also has a very strong belief in the value and future of the social enterprise sector.

Ian’s firm business sense coupled with desire to support the sector is unique and he hopes to continue to bring value to many social enterprises while ensuring that “The Mark” protects the quality of the sector brand.

Outside work, Ian can either be found taking his children to events, playing with classic cars or fixing up his home (again).


Muhammad AliMuhammad Ali

Muhammad has worked in senior roles in the private, public and voluntary sectors.

In the Voluntary sector he was the National Director of UK wide charity, where he played a key role in the development of the organisation since its inception. He has held numerous trustee roles in the voluntary sector, and believes in passing on his skills to others and mentors young people. In so doing, he helped develop a mentoring programme 10 years ago through a supplementary school, starting initially with 5 tutors and 50 young people. Today, the school has 120 professionals (all working voluntary) and 700 young people attending the school on a weekly basis.

In the public sector he has held various non-executive directorships including non-executive director of Primary Care Trust which had a budget £750m and non-executive Chairman of £42m UK Community Healthcare care organisation which has some 1300 staff.

In the private sector he has held numerous senior executive and non-executive board positions in a variety of businesses including; a multi award winning car dealership, real estate, food, retail, training and recruitment businesses. Voted “business person of the year” by the local community, his other business interests include; commodity trading (non precious metals) and venture capital investment. He regularly provides lectures on leadership inspiring others to broaden their horizons by trying new things and moving out their comfort zone.

In his personal life, born in the UK to Bangladeshi parents, Muhammad is a law graduate with postgraduate qualifications in Marketing and Business Management. He was one of the first Bangladeshi boys to have gone to university from his home town in Walsall. He speaks, several languages including Bangla, Urdu and Arabic. He regularly contributes to radio debates on a range of topics. Muhammad has travelled extensively throughout the world, mostly for pleasure, to just under 45 countries.


Ian BretmanIan Bretman

Ian joined the Social Enterprise Mark CIC Board early in 2014, although he had known Lucy for some years prior to that and did some pro-bono marketing work for the Social Enterprise Mark in 2012.

Ian is currently self-employed and advises clients on strategy and organisational development. Fairtrade is a big part of his background and he spent nearly 20 years firstly developing the UK market, leading work on relationships with food brands and retailers and then working on projects around the world for Fairtrade International.

Ian has also worked for a wide range of commercial and not-for-profit organisations in a career spanning over 40 years. A focus of much of his professional work has been helping businesses to operate more sustainably and charities to work in a more business-like way, so he feels really at home with the work of the Social Enterprise Mark.

In his spare time, Ian likes travelling, reading, films and had always been a big music fan.


Sara BurgessSara Burgess

Sara became the Regulator of Community Interest Companies in September 2007.  As a light touch regulator, Sara’s key role was to raise awareness of community interest companies and maintain public confidence in the CIC legal form. Her term of appointment came to an end in September 2015 and Sara now advises on the CIC model and other social enterprise options.

As a former Chief Executive of a charity, Sara has over 26 years experience of working at management and senior management level in the third sector, with a variety of small local and large national charities. These include Mencap and The British Red Cross Society.

As well as paid work Sara has offered her skills on a voluntary basis to charities and has sat on voluntary management committees, including as Chair. Most recently she has been a volunteer for the Cardiff Foodbank and with Young Enterprise as a mentor to young people in school who have set up a business. Sara firmly believes in the value of mentoring and coaching and does pro bono work in this field. She is a Fellow of the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce).

Sara lives in Cornwall and is working with a number of organisations supporting social enterprise and business around the country.


Professor Linda DrewProfessor Linda Drew

Linda is a creative education champion with experience as a board member and trustee in higher education and the creative industries. She is the former Vice Chancellor of Ravensbourne University London (2015-2019), where she led the small specialist university, focused on the design, content, screen and technology disciplines. Linda has built a reputation for being a champion of the role of education for creative and digital practice at all levels and strongly supports social enterprise as an important part of the higher education social ecosystem.

She became a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers in 2017. Linda has been a Governor at Stationers Crown Woods Academy since 2015.

Previously, Professor Drew was at the Glasgow School of Art, as Deputy Director (2011-2014) and a Dean at the University of the Arts London; most significantly leading academic development at Chelsea College of Arts (2003-2011). She studied fashion design at Saint Martin’s School of Art and completed an educational research doctorate at Lancaster University (PhD).


Luke Joy-SmithLuke Joy-Smith

Luke has worked within the Learning Disabilities field for over 25 years, both within the NHS but significantly the Voluntary Sector. Luke is currently Managing Director of Discovery, a registered charity and social enterprise supporting adults with learning disabilities and/or autism across Somerset.

Luke has also provided consultation work with Local Authorities, CCG’s and other third sector providers and has a sound knowledge base of the social care sector in order to develop new ways of ensuring people with learning disabilities are given greater choice and control over their lives in order to be  active, engaged and valued citizens within their communities.

In 2008, Luke was appointed Co-Chair of a Learning Disability Partnership Board and in 2009 was invited to join the Board of Trustees for a learning disabilities advocacy organisation.  Both  opportunities requiring strategic guidance for small bodies with strong values aiming to ensure people with learning disabilities can use their rights and in turn have greater control over the lives.


Professor Brendon NobleProfessor Brendon Noble

Brendon Noble has an extensive track record in research in health, ageing and physical activity, both at the Medical Schools at University of Cambridge and at the University of Edinburgh where he was Professor of Regenerative Medicine in the Medical Research Council’s Centre for Regenerative Medicine. He was also Pro-Vice Chancellor of Research, Post Graduate and Innovation at the University of St Mark & St John in Plymouth.

He is the Higher Education representative for the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership’s Committee on the European Structural and Investment Fund and sits on the HoSW LEP Business Leadership Theme Group and the Plymouth Area Business Council (PABC).

He has undertaken advisory roles in a range of sectors including healthcare, technology and AgriTech. He has a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Aberdeen, he is a Fellow of the Royal Biological Society and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He is a Trustee of the UK Stem Cell Foundation and Managing Trustee of the conservation charity, the Frozen Ark and he has founded a company in the MedTech space.

He is passionate about technology and biotech, art, travel & fine cuisine and in his younger years played in a couple of bands.


Staff Board Members

Lucy Findlay

Lucy Findlay MBE

Lucy is the founding Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC.

Over the last ten years, she has developed the Social Enterprise Mark from a regional project to an internationally available accreditation, providing a clear standard for the social enterprise sector and added social value.

Lucy remains committed to responding, adapting and developing robust and credible standards, which support, strengthen and broaden the social enterprise sector. Her primary motivation is ensuring that genuine social enterprises are recognised as a legitimate and different way of doing business to change society for the better.

Lucy is publicly recognised as a key player in the UK social enterprise sector, and was appointed an MBE in the Queen’s 2019 New Year Honours for service to social enterprise. Over the years, she has advised several Government departments; she is currently a Year of Green Action Ambassador for DEFRA and has recently worked with DWP and the Supported Business Steering Group to launch a specialist accreditation for social enterprises and Supported Businesses that focus on employing disabled people.


Richard CobbettRichard Cobbett

Richard is Assessment and Compliance Manager at Social Enterprise Mark CIC. He joined the Board as a staff Director in October 2019.

Over the last 30 years, Richard has worked with a range of certification and/or accreditation systems and standards that focus on quality assurance and establishing best business practice. He has worked for Social Enterprise Mark CIC since the very early days and is responsible for the assessment and accreditation process.

His history with social enterprise began over 10 years ago working with the Plymouth based social enterprise, Co-active, advising and supporting other social enterprises on a range of interests, from setting up, to governance and business planning.